Sexton Beetle (Nicrophorus carolina)

I think this is where I have to admit I have a problem. I was hanging around in the backyard, waiting for our dog do what she does best, and noticed that one of our local anole lizards had passed on. I knelt down to look, and saw that it was swarming with ants. “Oooh,…

Sweetpotato Armyworm Moth

Meet the sweetpotato armyworm caterpillar, a reasonably common backyard denizen in the southeastern US, Central and South America. This particular fat little bugger had an uninterrupted evening eating the only one of my sunflowers to successfully bloom, and was not gracious at all when I pulled it off my sunflower and set it on the…

Squirrel Tree Frog

At about 3.5 cm long, I thought this was a juvenile green tree frog, but upon getting a better look at the photo (this individual was hiding under an informational sign and was difficult to see without the camera), I am pretty sure this is a squirrel tree frog (Hyla squirrella). Most tree frogs seem…

Asian Lady Beetle

I grew up calling these “ladybugs”, too, but, technically, Harmonia axyridis, and other lady beetles, are not true bugs. H. axyridis, also known as the harlequin lady beetle, Halloween lady beetle, Asian lady beetle, or multicolored Asian ladybeetle, is native to eastern Asia, but was introduced to Europe and North America in order to control…

Hieroglyphic Cicada

Due to some unfortunate misadventures in my youth, I’m generally avoidant of cicadas, even knowing that they are harmless. The hieroglyphic cicada (Neocicada hieroglyphica), at only 32mm long, is smaller than the cicadas I remember hatching in jars when I was younger (only to be dive-bombed by the resulting angry adults when I tried to…

American Green Tree Frog

It’s so nice to see a native frog species! (I love Cuban tree frogs, but they’re invasive and eat gorgeous native frogs like this.) This is an American green tree frog, Dryophytes cinereus, about 6cm long and actually native to Florida. American “green” tree frogs actually come in all sorts of colors, from yellow-olive to…

Puss Caterpillar

The distinctive, furry, yellow puss caterpillar is actually the larva of the equally distinctive, furry, yellow southern flannel moth, Megalopyge opercularis. The adult moths are lovely, cuddly-looking things, yellow and cream, with big soft wings and fluffy abdomens. The caterpillars are equally cuddly looking, but the soft yellow setae (hairs) on their body are interspersed…

Palm Flatid Planthopper

Having gotten a camera that can make these little insects visible, I’ve decided that I love planthoppers. They look like tiny, perpetually-startled, neon aliens. The palm flatid planthopper, Ormenaria rufifascia, is a charming, Muppet-faced, bright green species, with bright orange and blue stripes on its head. Adults are relatively big for hoppers, about 11mm in…

Shining Leaf Chafer Beetle

Oh dear — another glorious little beetle who has been formally named, and then abandoned, a series of tiny stub articles on Wikipedia and not even mentioned in the Britannica article on shining leaf chafer beetles. I understand that even if 50% of the human population each picked a species of beetle and spent their…

Fragile Forktail

As a macro photographer, whose gear requires that I get pretty personal with my subjects, I generally have a lot of problems with fast-moving, flighty damselflies. I can’t blame them for not wanting something the approximate same size as a semi truck to get within two inches of them, but it makes photos like this…

Zebra Longwing Butterfly

This is Florida’s state butterfly! A lovely and distinctive black butterfly with narrow yellow stripes on its elongated wings, the zebra longwing (also known as the zebra heliconian) is native to peninsular Florida and south Texas in the US (sometimes migrating into states further northward). They also live all over South and Central America. Heliconius…

Crinum Lily

This dazzling white and pink lily is probably Crinum zeylanicum, but, since it was found in a human-curated area (Lake Lotus Park, Altamonte Springs, FL), it may be any one of, or a hybrid of, a number of human-cultivated variations of the basic “Crinum lily”, including C. zeylanicum (its closest equivalent, visually) or others. I…